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"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" was Haeckel's answer--the wrong one--to the most vexing question of nineteenth-century biology: what is the relationship between individual development (ontogeny) and the evolution of species and lineages (phylogeny)? In this, the first major book on the subject in fifty years, Stephen Gould documents the history of the idea of recapitulation from its first appearance among the pre-Socratics to its fall in the early twentieth century.

Mr. Gould explores recapitulation as an idea that intrigued politicians and theologians as well as scientists. He shows that Haeckel's hypothesis--that human fetuses with gill slits are, literally, tiny fish, exact replicas of their water-breathing ancestors--had an influence that extended beyond biology into education, criminology, psychoanalysis (Freud and Jung were devout recapitulationists), and racism. The theory of recapitulation, Gould argues, finally collapsed not from the weight of contrary data, but because the rise of Mendelian genetics rendered it untenable.

Turning to modern concepts, Gould demonstrates that, even though the whole subject of parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny fell into disrepute, it is still one of the great themes of evolutionary biology. Heterochrony--changes in developmental timing, producing parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny--is shown to be crucial to an understanding of gene regulation, the key to any rapprochement between molecular and evolutionary biology. Gould argues that the primary evolutionary value of heterochrony may lie in immediate ecological advantages for slow or rapid maturation, rather than in long-term changes of form, as all previous theories proclaimed.

Neoteny--the opposite of recapitulation--is shown to be the most important determinant of human evolution. We have evolved by retaining the juvenile characters of our ancestors and have achieved both behavioral flexibility and our characteristic morphology thereby (large brains by prolonged retention of rapid fetal growth rates, for example).

Gould concludes that there may be nothing new under the sun, but permutation of the old within complex systems can do wonders. As biologists, we deal directly with the kind of material complexity that confers an unbounded potential upon simple, continuous changes in underlying processes. This is the chief joy of our science."

From the Back Cover: In this, the first major book on the subject in fifty years, Stephen Jay Gould documents the history of the idea of recapitulation from its appearance among the pre-Socratics to its demise in the early twentieth century.

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Gould, Stephen Jay
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Gould, Stephen Jay
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Stephen Jay Gould
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Book Description Harvard University Press. Hardcover. Condition: Fair. 0674639405 3rd printing, 1978. Dust jacket is rippled from clear water contact that doesn't affect book. Title page has 1 inch tear at edge. Former owner name on fly page. Binding solid, pages crisp and clean. Some light scuffs and dents. Corners lightly bumped and rubbed. Seller Inventory # SKU1003725

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Gould, Stephen Jay
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Book Description Harvard University Press, 1977. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. Publisher's hardback in very good condition: firm, square and tight with no snags or splits, just a trifle rubbed. Complete with original dustjacket: in decent shape, just slightly rubbed and moderately edge-worn. Contents sound and clean; no pen-marks. Not from a library so no such stamps or labels. Thus a tidy book in presentable condition. Seller Inventory # 095338

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Book Description Harvard University Press, U.S.A., 1977. Hard Cover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. Dust jacket has mild wear including a bit of very faint spotting at top on inside. Book itself has just very mild shelfwear. Pages of text are clean, bright and free of markings. Binding is tight and secure. ***Ships today or next business day. Our books are carefully described and packaged in boxes (not envelopes). A gift card and personalized message can be included upon request.*** Size: 9.5x6.25. Seller Inventory # 218362

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Stephen Jay Gould.
Published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts (1977)
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Book Description The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1977. Cloth. Condition: Very Good. First Edition. Brown cloth, silver titles, HARDBACK. very slightly rubbed, small ink signature on front end paper otherwise this is a very clean and tight copy with no other defects or blemishes of anykind. With 501 pages, several B/W illus. No DJ. Seller Inventory # 015150

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